How a Strategic Pivot Took James Wood Law From the Brink of Bankruptcy to $500K/Month

How a Strategic Pivot Took James Wood Law to $500K Per Month

Today, James Wood Law is known as the leading medical malpractice law firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but overcoming significant obstacles was necessary to reach that point.

In this interview, James shares how the firm was near bankruptcy in 2015 before a pivot in strategy led to a drastic turnaround. Read on to see how James and his team have marketed and grown the business to become an industry leader.

👇 Key Takeaways

  • James made a significant investment and commitment to the business (personal loans, cashed-in retirement savings, and a second mortgage)
  • A pivot from general personal injury cases to specializing in medical malpractice changed the trajectory of the business
  • James used a combination of internet marketing (SEO and social media) and local networking to grow the business
  • Engaging with local media has helped to position James as the leading expert in the field

Overview

Business Name: James Wood Law
Website URL: https://www.albuquerqueinjurylawfirm.com/
Founder: James Wood
Business Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Year Started: 1994
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 8

How much revenue and profit does the business generate?

$500,000 in average monthly revenue. Contingent-fee practice varies from month to month.

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I’m the founder of James Wood Law, a leading medical malpractice law firm that I’ve been running since 1994. As a Double Board Certified Trial Lawyer, I hold the privilege of being licensed to operate within both New Mexico and Texas. My certifications encompass being a Civil Law Trial Specialist, accredited by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, as well as a specialist in Personal Injury Trial Law, certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

My journey in the legal field began in 1992 after I graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law with honors. At first, I worked for several personal injury law firms, where I gained invaluable experience. However, it was clear from the outset of my career that I had ambitions of leading my own practice. This came to fruition when I founded my personal injury practice in Amarillo, TX.

Ever since I decided to branch out and establish my own law firm, it’s been a wild ride – and I mean that in the best way possible. Our firm is all about fighting for the underdog, those folks who might get lost in the shuffle when profit stands in the way of what’s fair. My team and I have been standing up for the little guy against mega-corporations, insurance giants, and towering health institutions for three decades now. 

We’re compassionate toward the clients we represent and also tenacious in the courtroom. We understand that legal battles can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. That’s why we approach each case with personalized care and aggressive advocacy, ensuring our clients are heard and resoundingly represented. Our track record of successful verdicts and settlements is a reflection of our commitment to seek justice for those we serve.

James Wood Law Website

How does your business make money?

Our practice focuses exclusively on medical malpractice, hospital negligence, and wrongful death cases. We do not represent corporations, insurance companies, or governmental entities. We only represent families, children, and the elderly who are victims of medical negligence. By limiting our practice to these types of cases, we have developed a reputation as the go-to law firm in New Mexico, known for providing outstanding counsel in this area of the law. 

Our firm has developed a real niche in this market. Medical malpractice is one of the hardest areas of law to practice because of the complexity of medicine, how often the science changes, and how much it costs to prosecute these cases. It can cost $250K just to get started because they usually require specialty doctors to come in to testify. Despite the many challenges of this practice area, our firm has cultivated special expertise and developed cutting-edge techniques to successfully handle these types of complicated cases and still profit.

When you look at what we do at our firm, it really boils down to being advocates for those who need it the most. Our team is deeply committed to protecting families, children, and the elderly from medical malpractice. Each case is more than just a legal challenge; it represents a person or family who’s relying on us to make things right. And when we secure a substantial verdict—like the $23.8 million verdict we secured in 2023 —it’s a moment of dual triumph.

Not only have we upheld justice for our clients, but we’ve also reinforced the financial foundation of our firm. The complexities of these cases are enormous, but so are the rewards. Believe me, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing our hard work is changing lives and simultaneously driving the success of our firm. It’s truly a win-win situation.

What was your inspiration for starting the business?

Initially, I founded a broad-ranging personal injury practice. We offered legal advocacy for a variety of cases including car accidents, slips and falls, defective product cases, and more.

In 2008, I made the pivotal move of relocating the firm to New Mexico, which allowed us to take advantage of the state’s favorable laws for plaintiffs in personal injury suits.

By 2015, our firm had honed our expertise to specialize in representing individuals affected by medical negligence, so we committed ourselves to this particular area of practice.

How and when did you launch the business?

I first launched my law firm in 1994 in Amarillo, TX. We then relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2008 where the law is more favorable to personal injury cases. In 2015, we switched the focus of the firm to just representing medical malpractice cases.

How much money did you invest to start the business?

When we relocated to New Mexico, I invested $100,000 into the business through lines of credit from banks and personal loans.  At one point, I was all in.  I borrowed against my life insurance, cashed in my retirement, and took a second mortgage on my home. 

How did you find your first few clients or customers?

Our journey to building a solid client base was gradual and required patience and persistence.

Our initial foray into advertising via newspaper ads didn’t yield results, leading us to a pivotal realization – the future of our client outreach lay in the digital landscape. We pivoted to internet marketing and started embracing social media platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn, which allowed us to connect with a broader audience.

Simultaneously, we dedicated efforts to refining our website’s design, ensuring it was not only professional and inviting but also packed with useful information that would improve our search engine traffic.

However, drawing clients to our firm was merely the first step. What truly set us apart and grew our brand was our approach towards client relationships. Recognizing the trials and tribulations our clients faced, we placed immense importance on their experience with us. Our commitment was to offer not just our services, but a supportive and understanding environment, making their journey with our firm as seamless and comfortable as possible. This holistic and empathetic approach was instrumental in how I found my first clients and started gaining case referrals. 

What strategies did you use to grow the business?

Although focusing on internet marketing was a game changer for us, it was ultimately our dedication to our clients that set us apart and enabled us to build a community around our business. That’s really what’s worked best to attract and retain clients. Getting involved locally through sponsorships, community events, and networking with other professionals in our field has greatly contributed to our brand’s substantial growth since 2015. 

We also continue to engage with local media outlets by positioning myself as the foremost expert in my subject area. Offering my expertise on new laws passed concerning medical malpractice and quotes on business leadership has been working because we’re building brand awareness and name recognition within the community.

All of these strategies are why so many people in New Mexico bypass our competition and think of us first when they need medical malpractice representation.

James Wood at his desk

Tell us about your team.

Our firm has grown from one attorney and one paralegal to four attorneys and five paralegals.  We also work with a legal nurse consultant and a jury consultant. 

What are your future plans for the business?

We may open a satellite office in Phoenix because it is an ideal market to grow the brand and expand the firm.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge I’ve overcome as a leader was when my firm almost went out of business in 2015. At the time, we had lost a couple of crucial trials and were quickly running out of money. The quality of the cases we were handling back then wasn’t ideal, and I was also dealing with some health issues. Things were so bad that I even met with a bankruptcy lawyer. 

Although it was a tough time for my firm, I decided to shift my focus to exclusively handling medical malpractice cases. This ended up being the best decision for the business because we’ve secured multiple verdicts and settlements of more than $1 million, which enabled us to level up the business and expand our marketing efforts. 

If you had to start from scratch, where would you begin?

I would start by establishing my law firm in New Mexico instead of Texas, and I would specialize in medical malpractice cases instead of trying to handle all types of personal injury cases. We were able to develop special expertise in these types of cases much sooner than I anticipated, and while the financial risks associated with taking on malpractice cases were daunting, the financial rewards have been lucrative and consistent.

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